by Keith McCalmont
Four-time Grade 1 winner Tiz the Law has settled back in at trainer Barclay Tagg's Belmont Park-based stable after a hard-fought second as the beaten favorite in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on September 5 at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Sackatoga Stable, Tiz the Law arrived at the "Run for the Roses" off an unbeaten 3-year-old season which included victories in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30 at Gulfstream Park, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 20 and the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers on August 8 at Saratoga Race Course. Last season, he gave Sackatoga Stable their first Grade 1 triumph since Funny Cide [2004 Jockey Club Gold Cup] when winning the Champagne in only his second start.
Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga Stable's Operating Manager, said the Grade 1, $1 million Preakness Stakes on October 3 at Pimlico Race Course, the final leg of this year's Triple Crown, is still an option for the talented son of second crop sire Constitution with a work next week being a deciding factor.
"He'll be doing his regular gallops and as long as everything continues along well, then we'll have a work next weekend to assess where we are," said Knowlton. "We want to make sure he comes out of the race well and acts like he did after the Travers. That's what we'd like to see moving forward."
Bred in New York by Twin Creeks Farm, Tiz the Law is out of the Tiznow mare Tizfiz, boasting six victories from eight lifetime starts and earnings of $2.61 million
Following last Saturday's Kentucky Derby, Knowlton purchased a New York-bred yearling on behalf of Sackatoga Stable at the Fasig-Tipton Sale for $300,000. Bred in the Empire State by Barry Ostrager, the yearling son of Tiznow is out of the stakes-placed Gilded Time mare Eternal Grace, who produced multiple turf graded stakes placed Bye Bye Bernie. He was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm.
"We got a nice Tiznow colt that we really like a lot," Knowlton said. "There were only a couple horses we bid on, but we persevered and got him. He's down in Ocala now and hopefully Tony Everard [of New Episode Training] can work his magic. If he can run in New York stakes races, that's our hope. It's not always easy getting those."
Rocketry hoping to blast off in $80K Miner's Mark
Centennial Farms' Rocketry will look to return to winning form in Friday's $80,000 Miner's Mark, a 12-furlong stamina test on Big Sandy slated on Opening Day of the 27-day Belmont Park fall meet which runs through Sunday, November 1.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Rocketry sports a ledger of 24-5-5-4 with purse earnings of $660,110. The 6-year-old Hard Spun bay made headlines in 2018 with a memorable performance in the Temperance Hill Invitational where he covered the 1 5/8-mile distance in 2:40.18, besting Man o' War's 98-year-old track record of 2:40 4/5.
One start later in November 2018, Rocketry made the grade with a powerful score in the Grade 2 Marathon at 1 3/4-miles at Churchill Downs. The hard-trying horse has finished on-the-board in 4-of-8 starts since that effort and Jerkens said Rocketry is training well into the third start of his current campaign.
"He seems to be doing real good," said Jerkens. "He's a very steady horse and acting good and strong. I expect him to run good."
Rocketry earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure in his Temperence Hill score [which he matched in the Marathon] and last year the horse earned a 94 Beyer when second in the 12-furlong Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont to Marconi.
"He's had some good races at Belmont. His race here in the Brooklyn was very good," said Jerkens.
Junior Alvarado will take over riding duties aboard Rocketry on Friday.
Shortleaf Stable's Klickitat, bred in the Empire State by EKQ Stables, enjoyed a productive summer at Saratoga, graduating in his 10th career start when wiring a state-bred maiden claiming turf route on August 7. The 4-year-old First Samurai chestnut followed on September 5 with another prominent score in a 1 1/16-mile restricted allowance route on the Spa turf that garnered a career-best 84 Beyer.
"That was a big step up for him the other day. I thought he ran a huge race," said Jerkens.
Klickitat, a $220,000 purchase at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Preferred New York-bred sale, is a half-brother to 2017 Sleepy Hollow victor Evaluator.
Jerkens said Klickitat, who improved his record to 11-2-5-1, could come under consideration for the $150,000 Mohawk at 1 1/16-miles on the Belmont turf on October 24, as part of the Empire Showcase Day card which will offer eight stakes worth $1.2 million.
"We'll nominate him. Later in the year you'll get a horse that's coming around even though they look like they might be a little overmatched," said Jerkens. "Sometimes, in the fall when the weather cools off and they're in good form and running against horses that aren't as fresh, every once in a while they can get it done. We wouldn't rule it out."
Jerkens said he is looking forward to the debut of Chiefswood Stables' homebred Weyburn. The Ontario-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile, out of the A.P. Indy mare Sunday Affair, is a half-brother to multiple graded-stakes winner Yorkton.
"I hope run him at the end of the month," said Jerkens. "He's a Pioneerof the Nile 2-year-old that's training well. He looks like he could be okay."
Weyburn breezed a half-mile from the gate in 48.45 seconds Saturday on the Belmont dirt training track.
Come Dancing likely to train up to Breeders' Cup
Trainer Carlos Martin reported that multiple graded stakes winner Come Dancing will likely not have another start prior to the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland Race Course, which is scheduled to be the final start of her career.
The daughter of Malibu Moon added a fifth graded stakes triumph to her resume with a victory in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss on September 6 at Saratoga Race Course, where she earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in her first triumph in five starts this season. Last year, she shipped to Santa Anita for the Filly and Mare Sprint, where she finished sixth.
"It was a great way to end the Saratoga meet, and she came out of it great," Martin said. "She kept good weight since the win, and she seems to be thriving. I'm very excited about the Breeders' Cup. It will be her last race, so hopefully we have her ride off into the sunset a winner."
Owned by Marc Holliday's Blue Devil Racing Stable, Come Dancing won last year's Grade 3 Distaff at Aqueduct and Grade 2 Ruffian at Belmont Park before taking the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga. A Kentucky homebred, Come Dancing is out of the graded stakes winning Tiznow mare Tizahit.
Martin did not completely rule out providing Come Dancing a chance to defend her title in the Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom, a 6 ½-furlong sprint on October 3 at Belmont, but he said the mare will more than likely train up to the Breeders' Cup and ship to Keeneland a few weeks in advance to get acclimated to the new surroundings.
"We're discussing that," Martin said. "The Gallant Bloom is an option just like last year, but she runs well fresh. After speaking to Marc, we're inclined to go fresh into the Breeders' Cup. We'll get her down there early and get a few works over the track into her. This is going to be it, so we'll take our last shot. We tried going last minute to California and that's a whole different trip. I don't see any downside to going down a few weeks early."
Martin also enjoyed an allowance victory from stakes-winner Piedi Bianchi against fellow Indiana-breds at Indiana Grand Race Course on Tuesday.
"There an Indiana-bred race coming up in October, but she ran a big number so there might be an opportunity in New York. We'll play it by ear," Martin said.